Saturday, October 30, 2010

Recent random thoughts and images ...

A stately flower peeking over a fence the other morning on my walk ...

Shame on me, it has been a few busy days since I have posted anything on my blog. It seems there was something happening everyday and just the details of life.  Last Saturday I was the victim of a cyber attack to the tune of $187!  I had never experienced a computer virus, sure...I hear of them all the time but they seemed to happen to others. I literally felt like someone came into our home and robbed us.  The guy at the computer shop said he had read that the dollar amount of damage estimated of this particular crime is $2 billion. I find it hard to believe there is such evil out there. I admit I had not been doing updates as I should.

Also, last weekend, I worked on some cookie recipe research and testing for a contest. I made one recipe I called "Aunt Mossie's Magic Mounds" and Clint was the food tester.  I didn't have to ask him if he liked them, he ate ALL but one, the one I hid to make this photograph.  I think I would have heard by now if I was chosen a finalist for the contest.

The one cookie that was left from Clint's "taste testing".

Besides the cookies, I also made some Banana Biscotti. 

I goofed on this recipe, stirred batter too much.

Recently I wrote of a terrible experience at a little grill at a Mexican grocery store.  The food was bad enough but there was the fly swatting ... yikes!  Anyway, Thursday we had a most wonderful dining experience and lunch at Aparicio's here in Plano.

Oh, I almost forgot the falafel.  I made falafel a couple of days ago.  I used a brand of Falafel mix called Tarazi Gourmet Falafel Veggie Burger and was pleased with it.  Clint has now decided he likes falafel.  Available at Sprout's supermarket is prepared Tzatziki sauce, that sure helps in the preparation of the sandwich.  The sauce was very good, too.

Very good!

Some exciting news to announce, for some time I have thought I needed a blog just devoted to my art.  I am happy to announce that was born this afternoon!  (It took me two days to just do the header!  Whew!  It is difficult to get it all spaced in the 760 pixels!)

Enough rambling for the time being ... best wishes to all who might happen upon this blog ♥

Friday, October 22, 2010

Beware: Enter at your own risk!

This is a continuation of the blog about our friends' Halloween Party held a couple of nights ago.  Our friends, Ray and Sandy, always decorate beautifully during Halloween but not limited to it.  Their Easter and Christmas decorations are also like something from the pages of a home decorating magazine.
                                    (Click on image to enlarge)

Delicous pulled pork sandwiches, Five Cheese Mac and Cheese with Grilled Corn and Jalapenos, Red Cabbage Slaw, Calico Beans with Sausage ... and she even brought us leftovers the next day!  How many of you have neighbors like that?

Cute witch and cat display ...

Different twinkle lights make for a stunning effect ...

Sandy and Ray's mantel ... she covers her year round mantel painting to suit the occasion ... very clever!

Heed the warnings of the signs!

Nevermore ...

Boooo ... pumpkin!

Thanks again, Ray and Sandy, for such a wonderful evening ♥


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween Party at Ray and Sandy's

 A red head for a few hours ...

Ray and Sandy know how to throw a party! Clint and I had been planning for the Halloween party since we received their invitation a few weeks ago. Written on the invitation were the words, "dress festive". Since reading those words, Clint and I had a good time discussing our festive "costumes". Clint decided on a "punk biker" look. (We made this up :-) ) I wanted a chance to wear false eyelashes and play make believe, I'm still not sure of my party identity. We went in search of products to make Clint's hair stick out and spray to turn it black.

Can you imagine having real hair like this?  It's sad. 
Thank goodness it washed out!  (You would not
believe the black left in the shower!  :-) )
The appointed time had arrived last evening to walk to our friend's party down the street.  The sounds of laughter echo down the street as we meet our neighbors and friends, Wayne and Suzan, as they are headed to the party.  Wayne was sporting a most unique cap, complete with a faux Norweigian Plano rat attached! 

Wonder what the occupants of the car who
passed us on the street thought of this assortment of characters!?   he he

Plenty of bones about it, Suzan is a very talented baker as you will see in this next photo.  She was carrying these treats with her to the party:

Chocolate cake with green tinted butter cream frosting, they
 were delicious!  I confess, I ate two of them!
How cute and clever are these?!
Ray and Sandy greet the four of us at the door amid much laughter!  I don't know how to begin to describe Ray and Sandy's home.  Everywhere you look are these wonderful Halloween vignettes ... I didn't know where to begin to make photos. 
Beautful hostess, neighbor and friend, Sandy, wearing her
"Real Housewives of Collin County" t shirt.

The guys enjoyed playing croquette. 

Our host, friend and neighbor, Ray.  I heard he won the
game of croquette.  How many years ago was
it that you played croquette.  For me it was
 in the year 1968!

Suzan and Diane, friends and neighbors, seated at the dining room table. Suzan and Diane are very talented and creative women.  Their homes and flowers are beautiful!
Suzan's 7.03 carat spider ring.  (Imagine its web ... shudders!)  Notice Suzan's green toenails,
painted green for the occasion!
Tyson and Abby, held by Sandy, were excited by all the merriment!  They were very much a part of the party!

Sandy's stunning dining room table ... love her black velvet roses garland ...  too bad
it didn't photograph well in the photos.


The party's just begun and I have not even begun to show Sandy and Ray's  Halloween decor and  food.  There's so much MORE I want to share ... more photos to follow soon .....

Clint gave an account of last night's festivities on lyricsofloveandlore

Thank you so much, Ray and Sandy!  We had such a wonderful and fun time! 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Paula Deen's Chocolate Chewy Cookies

A favorite cookie from Paula Deen, Chocolate Chewy Cookies.
(Double click image to enlarge)

As I have mentioned several times in this blog, I am a fan of Whole Foods.  One of the cookies that I get there is a Chocolate Chewy Cookie.  I like this cookie made with meringue and it is sure lighter than a chocolate chip cookie or brownie.  Several months ago I ran across this recipe in the Dallas Morning News, a recipe for Paula Deen's Chocolate Chewy Cookies. I can't tell any difference between this cookie and my Whole Foods favorite.


2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used a very scant 1/4)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
3 egg whites
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (I used some English walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Stir together sugar, cocoa, salt and flour.  Add egg whites 1 at a time.  Beat well, then stir in pecans.  Batter will be very thin.

Drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies have begun to brown on bottom and appear set.  Allow to sit for about 2 minutes undisturbed, then remove cookies to wire racks to cool.  Store in airtight containers.

Makes 18 large cookies.  (Mine made 15 cookies)

Per serving: Calories 110,  Fat 5 g,  No cholesterol

I did not bake over 12 minutes.  I found that my tablespoon cookie scoop, the kind that releases the dough, helped in getting more uniform sizes of cookies.  This batter is very thin,  you will want to allow for expansion when placing on the cookie sheet for baking.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

No Bueno Luncho

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   A few weeks ago I decided to go to the Fiesta Mexican grocery store here in Plano.  This store carries a lot of vegetables and other products that are foreign to me, having grown up in East Tennessee.  It was interesting to see women scraping thorns off of cactus and handing out recipes.                                                                                                                                                                                    

There is a small little grill and seating area, the area consists of picnic tables, about three or four of them.  I was having trouble getting waited on and left thinking that Clint and I would stop there some day and have lunch together.

The day arrived we decided to have lunch there, that day was today.  We left about twenty minutes until 11:00 AM to get there to "beat the crowd".  There are already people standing at the counter, no rhyme or reason to any procedure on where to stand to order.  A nice lady beside me was telling us what was good and how she liked to buy tacos on Tuesday because they were a dollar.  She also gave me a lesson on how to pronounce the taco meat:  barbacoa.  I decided to have a taco on on the side with the Tuesday Special Combo Plate which consisted of two enchiladias covered in green sauce with melted cheese, refried beans with melted cheese, rice, lettuce and tomatoes.  How did I know about the Tuesday Special?  I knew from the very appetizing photo up on the wall.  Meanwhile, there are other people being waited on before us and we had thought about leaving.  Finally the employee comes to take my order, she took off before I could even finish and add the "barbacoa taco" on the side. 

There were only two employees behind the counter and more people are standing in line.  It is taking a long time and then I notice she is making two of the specials when I ordered only one.  Clint had planned on getting tacos. At this stage, he said to not bother changing it, he's eat the special.  Finally I get a chance to order the taco, this was when it was time to pay and also tell her "two waters for here".

The photo below is close to what the special looked like in the photo on the wall.  There were no chips or salsa today with our food. Notice the dreamlike quality of the photo ...  this point is important later on.  :-)

Photo is very similar to one shown at the Fiesta today
of the Tuesday Enchilada Combo Special.

Now to the ugly stark reality of the Tuesday Specials:  Unlike the photo, the enchiladas we were served were covered in a red sauce that was unnaturally red, the chicken inside dry with no other seasoning. (I have a feeling the left over deli chicken not sold is used for the enchiladas). I noticed the employee was in the cooler trying to find something and after few minutes she sprinkled some cheese that was exactly like Kraft Parmesean Cheese in the green container.  I had to scrap this off of the enchiladas.   
                                                                                                                                                                 There was no melted cheese on anything.  The rice was made with a can of Veg-All added to it and had no other flavor.  The refried beans ... how could those beans get so dried out by 11:00 AM?  No sign of lettuce or tomato.  Oh, the "barbarcoa taco", talking about mystery meat.  How would one descibe this greasy mixture. The first thing that stood out was a rounded almost-black object.  My first thought was it was a giant black olive but it was too tough. I then had the thought it might have been some kind of gland, it seems glands are more rounded body parts. This "gland" was about an inch in diameter. Of course there were gristle-like pieces and fat. Our water was only water with no ice in a styrofoam cup.

And then insult to injury:  FLIES!  LOTS OF FLIES!  We had to swat flies!  I had to put a folded up paper towel (no napkins) on top of my water to keep flies off of it.

Clint gave his version of the lunch adventure on his blog, Lyrics of Love and Lore  We laughed later and said this would be part of the Ellison lore for a long time!                                



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another quiche blog? Afraid so ...


Quiche I made using found ingredients and imagination.
(Double click on image to enlarge)

I can just read your minds, here she goes again talking about quiche.  Sorry, I can't help it.  I love quiche!
Quiche and salad and you have a meal!  I suppose my favorite is classic quiche lorraine, the one shown in this blog was a little different, I used two or three different kinds of cheese with the traditional bacon.  Also, I added sauteed mushrooms and onions, there goes the mushroom word again.  We love them, too.  I also added a splash of salsa.

A word about the crust:  I make my own and have all my life.  My mother made her own pie crusts all her cooking life, even working a full time job.  When I was a teenager, I spent some of my summers perfecting the art of making lemon meringue pies with homemade crust.  Of course, I had watched both grandmothers make their own crust but the best way of learning was watching my mother.

Everytime I go east, I buy White Lily Flour to bring back with me. It has been in my life for a very long time.

Using iced cold water and working quickly
makes the crust easier to handle
(Double click to enlarge image)

I have made so many pie crusts with fluted edges I could
do it with my eyes shut!
(Double click to enlarge image)




Saturday, October 16, 2010

Phone Home

The rotary phone we had for the most number of years
with our beloved numbers.

Several years ago I read a guest article in my hometown newspaper about the long history of a family's telephone number. I identified with this article, my home phone number since the mid to late 1950s had been used by my mother for over half a century! The writer of the guest column was relating how important their home number was and the memories associated with it. Their home phone number had become a fax machine number, a sister believing their mother would not live long had disconnected the number without the knowledge of other family members.

A couple of days ago I ran across the article, I had saved it and at the time felt in my not-too-distant future I would be experiencing some of the same emotions as the article writer.

It is almost overwhelming to think of all the conversations on our old family phone! All the news exchanged, good and bad. Our friends calling us ... including my sister and brother. There were the "prank calls" we made to stores asking, "Do you have Prince Edward in a can?". Many younger people would not know Prince Albert was tobacco. Of course, this was before Caller ID.

Sometimes there were the dreaded phone calls announcing the deaths of family members ... and sometimes the very exciting and happy news of new births! In those days if you had to make business calls, you actually were able most times to talk to a human being. Imagine!

In the early 1980s, my uncle (mom's brother) and his family who lived in Alabama had the exact same number as our phone number except for the area code, seven of the numbers.  When Clint and I lived in the Atlanta area, our last four numbers of our home number were ... you quessed it, the last four of my old home phone number.  Once again the number was made more special by reappearing again in my life.

 The most important connection to this number was being able to reach our mother. For some years since I moved to Texas, I talked to her almost every single day. It was comforting to know I could pick up the phone and she would be at the other end.

During the past year or so we were seeing changes in our mother. She was diagnosed with mild dementia (not so mild to us!) and she had to be placed in a facility for 24/7 care. There were the emotional ties to that phone number and the hope that mom would miraculously recover, return home and be by that phone forever, ready to take our calls.

Since my mother has been gone from that number for the past five months, I could not bring myself to dial the number. I just dialed it a minute ago and received the following message: The number you have dialed is no longer in service, if you feel this ...

Before I started this post, I called my sister to discuss me writing about our old phone number. Unlike the guest columnist that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my sister and I did discuss our old family number. I called my sister to ask how much she pays a month to keep mom's old number with the option of reinstating it. Maybe that was why I was not quite upset as I thought I would be when I got the message a little earlier that the "number has been disconnected" when I called it. I know it is not totally disconnected since we pay a fee for "hope"

Totally irrational I know, the things we do to attempt to hang on to those we love ...

Mom, around 1961.
Photo by Gene Tipton, Clinton Art Studio


Friday, October 15, 2010

Stuffed Party Mushrooms

Celebration Time ... Stuffed Party Mushrooms

Recently Clint and I have been on a mushroom kick.  We both love mushrooms.  A couple of months ago I found a recipe in Simple and Delicious magazine published by Taste of Home.  The recipe was called "Stuffed Party Mushrooms" and I made a note of it.  Last night we had them for dinner and we both loved them. 

Click on the following to go directly to the recipe:  Stuffed Party Mushrooms

The recipe was submitted to the magazine by Tara Sturgeon and she writes the following:  Now it is one of our party-time favorites.  We fix them all the time with different kinds of cream cheese, but I never make enough."

Some changes I made to the original recipes were substituting a 6 oz. can of crabmeat (drained very well) for the imitation crabmeat,  used the chive and onion spreadable cream cheese (could not find the vegetable one), and omitted the salt.  Also, I used Real Hellmann's Mayonnaise.  Another food item that we've grown fond of is Louisiana Hot Sauce, The Original.  I added a few drops on the mushrooms before baking them.  A few drops only, you can add more if desired.

Using white mushrooms, I took a very small spoon and removed some of the gills from the mushrooms' insides to make more room for the filling.

As Tara remarked, "I never seem to make enough."  I agree with that statement and this time had Clint to go to the store and buy more mushrooms so we would have enough.  For the first time we actually had leftovers!  Clint just ate them for breakfast. :-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tea with a New Friend

Tea time is always the right time with a new friend ♥

Yesterday I spent some time with a new friend, Laura.  We had a very enjoyable afternoon, we discovered we have some common interests and one interest is painting!  Laura has taken lessons in the art of Chinese painting and showed me notebooks of some of her lessons.  Chinese painting and calligraphy have a very interesting history, we discussed Sumi-e painting which means "one brush".  She also has a beautiful collection of paintings by Chinese artists.  One particular painting I was drawn to was a landscape painting depicting rainfall.  The artist captured the heavy rain in a realistic style, the rain all evenly slanted.  I am anxious to paint some rain!

The misty effect of rain ...
A Chinese painting of shrimp done in Sumi-E style.


Laura and I also saw some pitcher plants.  This plant is unbelievable, it has what looks like small water pitchers hanging off of it.  Laura said the little pitchers collect water when it rains.

The very unique and beautiful pitcher plant.

Laura and I hope to get together soon and do some watercolor painting.  Laura is a very beautiful person inside and out and I enjoyed getting to know her better.

Friends are like stars ... you don't always see them but you know
they're always there." "

~Hulali Luta






Monday, October 11, 2010

My Birthday with Barney, Thelma Lou and Ernest T.

Me with a 4 ft. store display of  Barney Fife (Don Knotts).  I asked (begged) a store manager to
save it for me and he gave it to me on the spot! 

  In the spring of 2001, my daughter Lucinda gave me a very special birthday gift, tickets to see Don Knotts (Barney Fife), Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) and Howard Morris (Ernest T. Bass).  The trio were appearing at the Country Tonite Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I have loved The Andy Griffith Show as long as I can remember.

Betty Lynn, was as sweet natured in person as Thelma Lou, the character she portrayed.

We arrived early and there were TAGS impersonators roaming around, some of them quite talented.  "Floyd" was one of my favorites, he had us laughing right away.  We went to a back door hoping we might catch a glimpse of the stars as they arrived.  Parked outside the door was an exact model and copy of Andy's sheriff"s car.

Lucinda with Andy's sheriff's car.
Don Knotts appeared on the stage first, he performed a ball player routine, I don't recall him doing any Barney mannerisms on stage.  The MC of the show was an excellent Barney impersonator.  Betty Lynn answered some questions on stage.  She said she had some contact with Aneta Corsaut (Helen Crump) during the illness of her later years and she had sent Aneta Corsaut a box of candy.                                                                    

Last but not in the way least, Howard Morris (Ernest T. Bass) makes a grand entrance from the rear of the theatre, giggling and thowing sponge rocks into the crowd.  He, too, was on stage for a Q and A session.

 Afterwards, there was an autograph session with Betty Lynn and Howard Morris. I regret the poor quality of the photos I took (earlier days of digital photography :-) but Lucinda and I savored every second being in the presence of these great TV legends. Don Knotts was not present afterwards.

Twice I have attended lectures by Dr. Richard Kelly, author of  The Andy Griffith Show.  This book is my favorite that has been written about the series.  Dr. Kelly has been an English professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The character of Ernest T. Bass was primitive and "strongly single minded", Dr. Kelly said the character could not appear in too many episodes lest he completely dominate the show. One is surprised to learn Ernest T. Bass was only in five epidodes of The Andy Griffith Show.

You ain't seen the las' of Ernest T. Bass.

Ernest T. in a more "sane" moment.

Ernest T sticking out his tongue!  Notice the laughing
guy in the foreground.

I love this expression, it cracks me up!

Dr. Kelly also shared with the audience about his visit at the home of Jack Dotson (Howard Sprague).  Jack Dotson was described as being very kind hearted and low key like the character he portrayed.  Jack Dotson took Dr. Kelly in his garage where he kept some of the old scripts and gave him an old script.  Only a few months later, Dr. Kelly was surprised to read in the newspaper of the passing of Jack Dotson.

My autographed copy of Richard Kelly's book.  In it he wrote,
"For Cindy, Warm Mayberry Wishes, Richard Kelly."